After a tumultuous week in golf, the U.S. Open will get underway on Thursday. Despite a major tournament beginning this week, attention has been focused elsewhere within the sport.
The start of the LIV Golf tour last weekend has been the center of controversy within the sport. With players who have joined the new tour joining their colleagues on the PGA Tour in Brookline, the new tour was the main focus on Tuesday.
LIV Golf Controversy Surrounds U.S. Open
Last weekend saw the first-ever event held by LIV Golf take place in London, England. The event, won by Charl Schwartzel, saw Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and others officially make their departure from the PGA Tour.
At the PGA Tour’s event last week, the Candian Open, the LIV Golf event was a frequent topic. Several tour players were asked about their opinions on the new tour, culminating in PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s interview on CBS during the final round of the tournament.
Monahan defended the PGA Tour and its’ decision to suspend the players who participated in the inaugural event of the new tour. However, despite it being the week of a major tournament, the controversy has continued to surround the sport.
On Tuesday, many of the press conferences from the major players at the U.S. Open focused on the new tour. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and several others all faced questions about LIV Golf.
Each of the player’s responses was different, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm both supported the PGA Tour. Koepka, whose brother Chase played in the first LIV Golf event last week, spoke about how the focus should be on the U.S. Open.
As Johnson and Mickelson reunite with the players they used to play alongside on the PGA Tour this week, the focus on the biggest story in golf will only grow. Saturday and Sunday at the U.S. Open may take the focus off of LIV Golf for a few days, but this will remain the most important storyline in golf for the foreseeable future.
Canadian Open Win Gives McIlroy Momentum
Somewhat lost in the chaos of the last two weeks within the sport was Rory McIlroy’s performance on Sunday at last weekend’s Candian Open, at least as much as a final round 62 can be. McIlroy’s final round in Toronto secured a win as McIlroy finished two strokes ahead of Tony Finau and four strokes ahead of Justin Thomas.
McIlroy looks to be back to his best ahead of the U.S. Open. He finished in the Top 10 of the PGA Championship in May and finished second at the Masters. Sunday’s performance at the Candian Open was the final proof that McIlroy should be a contender in Brookline this weekend.
A win in Massachusetts would be McIlroy’s second U.S. Open victory, but he’ll have to compete against Thomas, who won the PGA Championship, among others this weekend. Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Cameron Smith also should be favorites to have a chance to win on Sunday.
Rahm won last year’s U.S. Open and finished in the Top 10 at the Memorial Tournament, although he didn’t play well in the two earlier major tournaments this year. Smith, on the other hand, played well at the Masters and the PGA Championship, finishing tied for third and tied for 13th in the two tournaments.
Scheffler won comfortably at the Masters but missed the cut at the PGA Championship. However, the 25-year-old will enter play on Thursday feeling confident after finishing second and 18th in his two most recent tournaments.
Groups to Watch this Weekend
Play will get underway at The Country Club in Brookline at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday. Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm will tee off together at 7:18 a.m. Immediately after Rahm and Morikawa begin, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, and Max Homa will get underway at 7:29 a.m.
Rory McIlroy will begin his pursuit of a fifth major tournament championship at 7:40 a.m. alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele. Justin Thomas will get underway at 1:14 p.m. in one of the most exciting groups of Thursday and Friday, as he will play his first two rounds alongside Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau.
Dustin Johnson begins play at 1:36 p.m., 11 minutes ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, who recently announced he would be joining LIV Golf, and Phil Mickelson. It will be interesting to see how fans react to the trio at the beginning of the tournament.
This weekend’s U.S. Open will be exciting to watch on the course and outside of it. As golf’s future continues to change, Brookline, Massachusetts will be the center of every storyline this weekend.